The Ox Is Slow … And So Is Mick Malthouse’s Book

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Mick Malthouse is an Australian Football coach whom I’ve mentioned before.  By most definitions he is a moderately successful one, albeit one with great longevity.  Somehow he has the reputation that far outweighs his actual achievements.  Like all successful coaches he has written (with his most trusted assistant David Buttifant) a book.  In my quest to read every book by every coach who ever lived, I read it quite a while ago and while mildly inspired to write a review of it, never quite got around to it.  In the last week, Malthouse has been in the news so I decided to revisit my original intention.

I would firstly like to address two inaccuracies that crop up before I reached the first page.  The first is that Mick Malthouse and David Buttifant actually wrote the book.  They are individually quoted at length in each chapter, but the actual ‘book’ part, the passages that elucidate the themes and bring together the contributions of the ‘authors’, are written by an unknown author (Technically I can’t rule out the possibility that they did write those passages using the third person, but I prefer too).  While this is a perfectly valid format, I found it annoying that it wasn’t acknowledged.  That Christi Malthouse is acknowledged for her ‘assistance with Michael’s writing’ (p267) actually brings into question whether Malthouse wrote even the part attributed to him.  The second is the assertion on the inside dust cover that the book is ‘… not just another sport book’.  In actual fact, it is just another sport book.  If I were asked to provide a quote for the back cover it would be…

If you read one sports book in your life, this could be the one.  If you have ever read another sports book, you have read this one.

I’m pretty sure I won’t be asked.

Another mild annoyance were the quotes sprinkled through the book attributed to players.  While I do not believe for a moment that sentiments expressed in the quotes were fabricated, I am 100% sure that the quotes themselves were.  No athlete in any sport ever spoke in the language and terms as they were quoted.

When I read a book, I normally make notes about topics that I want to remember or use in the future or interesting quotes.  Reading this book, I only made five notes.  If you have read this far, it seems small minded not to share them with you.

“I tell you this story to illustrate the truth of the statement I heard long ago in the army: plans are worthless, but planning is everything.  There is a very great distinction because when you are planning for an emergency you must start with this one thing: the very definition of ’emergency’ is that it is unexpected, therefore it is not going to happen the way you are planning.”     Dwight Eisenhower

“The superior man blames himself.  The inferior man blames others.”   Don Shula

“Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions.  Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.”   Mark Twain

“Continual improvement is the key to coaching. … You can never stop trying to find a better way.”  Brad Scott

“Effective coaching is about knowing when to intervene.”  Mick Malthouse (or unknown ghost writer)

Trust me, reading those five quotes just saved you A$29.99.

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